After buying a house, a caravan, particularly if it’s brand new, could be one of the most expensive things you buy. So look after it from day one – caravans don’t maintain themselves.
Just as you’d give your car an annual service, it’s worth doing the same to your caravan. A service agreement should included in the warranty for at least the first three years.
Check your caravan's tyres
Attending to roadworthiness is essential. You check the tread and air pressure on your car’s tyres so do the same to the caravan’s.
Look out for tyre cracking and tread depth, and tighten the wheel nuts. A high-pressure hose wash on the tyres will clear any lurking debris.
If you think the tyres are out of shape or worn, replace them before you make your first trip.
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Check your caravan's fire extinguisher, smoke alarm and first aid kit
Ensure your caravan's fire extinguisher is secure and that it isn’t due for an extended service. Check the date on it. If it’s over five years old then call your local fire service for advice.
Check your smoke alarm is working, and top up your first aid kit if it was used last time you had an outing.
Check your caravan's lights
Check that the caravan’s lights are all working, from interior lighting (even the fridge bulb) to the all-important outside lights, braking and indicating.
Make sure you have replacement bulbs available, and that the tow car and caravan links are secure and electrics are working.
Check your caravan's handbrake
After winter storage, the handbrake will need testing - don’t wait until your first trip.
If it feels too tight, then lubricate it. And while you’ve got the WD40 handy, oil the door and window hinges and make sure that keys move easily in the door and window locks.
Check your caravan's curtains and curtain rails
You should have removed any curtains, along with removable soft furnishings, cushions etc, before the caravan was laid up for winter. If not, make sure they and/or the window blinds run smoothly.
A quick squirt of furniture polish along a curtain rail ensures smooth-pulling curtains. If you find furnishings becoming musty, read our guide to preventing damp in caravans.
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Check your caravan's battery
Of course, you should have removed your caravan battery and charged it through the winter. If not, then do it ASAP. Test it after charging to make sure it’s still working efficiently.
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Give your caravan a polish
Even if you gave the caravan an exterior coat of polish before it was laid up, it’s still worth giving it another onceover before the season begins.
Check appliances and accessories are working
It’s easy to assume that because the caravan has been laid up, everything will be perfect when you remove its cover. But you may have overlooked something before it went into storage. For example, there could be something wrong with the awning, a screw missing or a small tear. Check it now.
That goes for all gas-operated devices, too. Check that the oven, including hob rings, works, that the fridge is functioning and the heating is operational. Check that window and door seals haven’t perished, and that goes for the fridge door seal, too. The shower hose needs to be clear and not leaking at the showerhead, and ensure that the shower room drain runs free.
Run a water sterilising solution through the pipes, and if your caravan was stored outside during the winter, check that the skylight isn’t damaged.
Getting your caravan serviced
If you decide on a specialist service, this should include a full damp test and most of the issues listed above.
Caravan service prices can vary significantly, between £150-£200 appears to be the going rate, so shop around for at least three quotes and insist that the specialist is qualified and issues you with paper details of the completed work.
If you’re not near a dealer, then try The Mobile Caravan Engineers Association.